2012 Month by Month

March 2013

We have decided to move away from Welwyn Garden City and so this diary of our front garden will no longer be possible. We will be starting a new diary entitled Our New Garden in Cumbria in due course. We will add the new webpage reference here when we have surfaced after the move.

November 2012

Still some colour from the penstemons, wonder whether I should plant some heucheras to brighten up the garden overall at this time of year.

southern comfort

Southern Comfort

Kernock Park Plants have a massive list to choose from. In view of the colour of the wall bricks I would choose complementary colours and Sugar Plum, Southern Comfort, Alabama Sunrise, Sweet Tea and Key Lime Pie all seem rather suitable. I’ll look into getting some plug plants.

Sweet Tea

Sweet Tea

In the meantime the dahlias have been lifted and stored … just hope they survive the winter. I read that you can eat the tubers! Perhaps that might be a better solution!

Now debating whether to add a deep mulch of leaves, certainly has given good protection in previous years. As we have been away for sometime we missed collecting leaves so may leave that rather tiring task this year.


General tidy up. Have left the dahlias that never recovered from the slug feast. I’ll leave them to overwinter with a good covering of compost and mulch. They might just make it. The everlasting sweet pea is still going strong – big success. I might add one to the magnolia next year which is going to have to be pruned once it has finished flowering next spring. Can’t do it now, would cut off too many flower buds.

The little cyclamen have been completely overwhelmed by the other plants on the garden edge. Such a pity, they are so beautiful. Might replant them under the magnolia next year, they are after all woodland plants so just be better suited there.


Penstemons, verbascum, tree lilies

Penstemons, verbascum, tree lilies

A passerby told me he loved the mix of plants. Some have  called it an eccentric mix, whatever, if it makes people stop and stare that’s a result! If it makes someone smile I’m delighted! Penstemons grown from seed, verbascum plug plant, and tree lilies all from Thompson & Morgan.

Late July 

Image taken 27 July 2012

Image taken 27 July 2012

Everything is looking good and the tree lilies are attracting a lot of attention. We have had several passersby taking photographs. The verbascum Clementine are flowering again but are not so tall this time. It’s possible to get white verbascum and I’ll grow some from seed. There is also a lovely creamy yellow variety, Banana Custard. I’ll have another attempt at getting the Blue Lagoon to grow. Both lots of plug plants I had just died.

The knautia is very leggy and really needs staking but I’ve allowed it to travel through other plants so giving little bursts of burgundy which look good among white flowering plants. The penstemon I grew from seed are flowering well. I’d like more white ones for next year.

The white everlasting sweet pea is doing its thing growing through and up the cotoneaster, I’m hoping for great things!

I’m thinking about pruning the magnolia stellata. It has grown very strongly this year, must like all that rain. Will have to get some expert advice on the pruning.

Mid July

The cotoneaster has been blown away from the wall and needs re-attaching. The everlasting white sweet pea is growing well into it which will brighten that patch up. The foxgloves are getting to the end of their flowering so the purple ones will be pulled up, leaving the white ones to seed. Of the eight tree lilies only three have survived. It will be interesting to see what colours appear.

The penstemons are full of vigour and will give colour until the end of September. Must grow more for next year as they are bushy, colourful and need very little attention – just deadheading. They are like smaller versions of foxgloves and a variety of whites, pinks and purples.

I omitted buying dahlia cuttings in March to grow on. I bought some six fully grown plants last week. At £7.49 each they were a bit steep, but worth it. However they turned into the priciest slug food ever! From good, healthy, vigorous plants

Good vigorous dahlia

Good vigorous dahlia

to sickly skeletons overnight!

Stripped by slugs overnight

Stripped by slugs overnight

I found five huge slugs on one plant alone. I quickly scattered bird friendly slug granules and the slug attack has abated. I will try a nematode product available from Wiggly Wigglers next year. It comes as a powder that you add water to and then spread round the area you want to protect. Said to be effective up to six weeks.


Cyclamen seed heads

Cyclamen seed heads

Delighted to find luscious cyclamen seed heads, not yet ready to relinquish their seeds, but full of promise. I’m always excited to find ‘freebies’ in the garden! I intend to grow some in gravel beside the house which will add some much needed colour in the spring.

Having forgotten to buy some dahlias in April to bring on, I decided to buy some established plants in pots. Wow, the price was breathtaking … £7.50 each. However they are sturdy and should grow on quickly and fill the gaps. Will plant the white ones among the greenery to brighten it up. Some of my favourite cosmos will help to brighten up other gaps. Three different reds was all that was left on the bench. Must make a note in next year’s diary to get them earlier next year.

T&M Fruit Punch poppy and white foxglove

T&M Fruit Punch poppy and white foxglove © Pintail

A chance planting of white foxgloves and the pink poppy together makes me think it would be worth working out a colour calendar. Something to do in the winter months. My favourite poppy colour is deep blood red and there is a plant in the front garden, so I’ll keep the seeds for next year.

The David Austin rose, Malvern Hills, is doing exceptionally well. The perfume hits you whenever you are near to the front door.

The beautiful white hellebore has begun to drop its seeds. I have collected lots hoping for good germination, always a bit of a lottery. I read somewhere mature seed develops a germination inhibitor preventing germination until early spring, whereas fresh or immature seed germinates quickly. So I’ll sow some now to see how reliable that info is.

The tree lily growth has been very patchy. Out of nine bulbs only five have developed. Disappointing result so far.


T&M Fruit Punch Poppy

T&M Fruit Punch Poppy

The large floppy flowered poppies I grew from seed are now coming out. Rather bigger plants than I had envisaged, the flower buds are prolific. Again I think the plant will push others out of the way but we’ll see how it goes.

T&M Fruit Punch Poppy

T&M Fruit Punch Poppy

Visiting Wimpole Hall in Cambridgeshire today I noticed in the walled garden they haven’t been able to keep the lily beetle away. I asked the gardeners what measures they took and they just said ‘Squash them’. Ugh, but if that’s the only effective treatment I’ll just have to grin and bear it or dig up the lilies. Think I’ll try the squash method but am not looking forward to it. Last time I just hoovered them up but the suction damaged the leaves so I just threw the lot away. Wandering round the gardens I was reminded of the most beautiful scent of Sweet Williams and decided I must grow some white ones next year.

I have found a plant that will contrast well with Green Apples – Pink Pixie a just announced new Thompson & Morgan verbascum. See feature in In Balance Magazine.

Green Apples, aquilegia vulgaris

Green Apples, aquilegia vulgaris

Everything is growing apace and some plants sown from seed last year are flowering, namely the new aquilegias Miss M I Huish and Green Apples. Have written more them on the magazine website.

The nine tree lilies are growing at different speeds. Some are 9 inches high, others are only just emerging from the earth. It’s going to be fun watching them grow to their expected height, dare I say it: 8 feet in two years. Some transplanting will surely be necessary to make sure other plants are not overwhelmed by such giants!


Have written a feature about the seeper hose watering system I devised for the front and back garden. Click here to read more.

A severe frost burned the magnolia flowers brown on Parkway but luckily our magnolia stellata was protected by its proximity to our front wall. The brilliant red tulips are out and the dark purple ones are just colouring up.

Interesting how red, orange and yellow look well together

Interesting how red, orange and yellow look well together

March has come and gone and the garden is not showing much stress from drought. When we did have rain the seeper hose worked a treat and with the mulch the moisture was kept in. I used the water from the butt towards the end of the month.

7 April 2012

7 April 2012

I was thrilled to see we have three pink buds developing on the tree peony planted just two years ago. With the various shades of lilac of the drumstick primula and the warm red of the begenia the three plants really complement each other. Just luck really, not at all planned.

With February bringing hard freezing weather we’ve had no leeks for a fortnight but today, 15th with a temperature of 10°C I was able to easily pull up some up for the evening meal. The green leaves are getting old and bitter so we’ll be eating the white sections from now on. Bluebells are beautiful and come up year after year, sometimes in my vegetable areas. When I dig them up they get thrown into the border to contain them because I love their colour and don’t want to lose them completely. Apples for the thrushes are popular – we can never hope to eat the number we harvest so it is good to share them in the hard weather months.

January came and went with nothing done in the garden at all.

About Val Reynolds

I publish In Balance Magazine and www.ourfrontgarden.com Contributions from other writers give breadth and insights to the magazine You can contact me at editorinbalance@me.com
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2 Responses to 2012 Month by Month

  1. mrsbrown says:

    bloomin’ marvellous

  2. Pingback: News Flash!!! Bargain Plug Plants for 24p | In Balance

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